CAMBODIA: Teenage girl shot dead in land protest


 [16 May 2012] - Security forces in Cambodia have shot dead a 15-year-old girl who was taking part in a land protest.

She was demonstrating against the development of a rubber plantation on farmland in eastern Kratie province.

Authorities say local residents, armed with axes and crossbows, would not vacate the area.

This is the latest in a number of clashes over land - last month environmental activist Chut Wutty was killed in a threatened forest region.

Details surrounding Mr Wutty's death are unclear but he was shot dead in a confrontation with the police while travelling in the south-west of the country.

He had been helping indigenous people trying to stop the exploitation of protected forests.

The Associated Press news agency says Wednesday's clashes involved 400 members of the security forces and about 200 villagers.

Authorities say the land in question is owned by the government, but activists argue villagers have been farming the land for many years and have nowhere else to go if it is developed by a private company.

The details of the fatal shooting are unclear although the governor of Kratie, Sar Chamrong, confirmed the death to AFP news agency.

"The authorities fired shots and a bullet ricocheted and killed a 15-year-old girl," he said.

He accused villagers, angry over the development, of trying to occupy the land illegally.

But human rights groups accused the police and military officers of opening fire on residents who were forcibly evicted from their homes.

Evictions and so-called "land grabs" have sparked unrest across Cambodia and attracted criticism from the United Nations.

On a recent visit a UN special envoy Surya Subedi expressed concern over the use of firearms against activists and the way evicted families are treated.

Last week the government announced the temporary suspension of land grants to private companies to try to curb the problem.

 

Further Information:

pdf: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18093818

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